March Madness baby names 2017: winnersDrumroll, please!

The winners of March Madness Baby Names 2017 are …

Leo and Wren

If you were following the contests:

  • Leo bested fellow o-ending boy name Arlo handily, 60% to 40%.
  • The girls’ contest was much closer. Wren narrowly won over Esme, 52% to 48%.

Leo joins past winners:

  • Nathaniel in 2011
  • Arthur in 2012
  • Archer in 2013
  • Everett in 2014
  • Finn in 2015
  • Theodore in 2016

On the girls’ side, Wren is added to this list:

  • Louisa in 2011
  • Genevieve in 2012
  • Isla in 2013
  • Cora in 2014 and 2015
  • Sylvie in 2016

After Cora’s back-to-back wins, we decided that all past winners are retired from future competition. That means that we won’t see Leo or Wren in future years’ matches. Arlo and Esme, however, are free to continue to compete.

March Madness Baby Names 2017: Conclusions

Can we learn anything from the names that triumphed?

  1. Nature names have undeniably gone mainstream. Maybe that’s not new, because we’ve been meeting kids called River and Willow for years now. But I do think we’re seeing a subtle shift. There’s a difference between nature names being broadly accepted, and names drawn from nature becoming so common that we don’t see them as word names anymore. Of course, Leo counts only partly as a word name. It feels traditional.
  2. Are names getting shorter? The answer remains constant – yes and no! When I see results like this, it’s tempting to say yes. But then there’s Oliver and Penelope and lots of other long names trending, too. This year’s winning duo come in shorter than any previous year!
  3. I still can’t guess which names will win! After the opening round or so, I would have bet on Arlo and Esme. And – as usual! – I would have been wrong!

Can’t wait ’til next March for another baby name game? Stayed tuned for this July, when we’ll have our New Names Showdown, based on names that debuted in the Top 1000, or returned to the rankings. Last year’s winners were Arden and Wilder. Who will join them in 2017? Once again, that’s up to you!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I prefer Arlo to Leo, but I adore Wren! This March Madness game is so much more enjoyable than basketball;)

  2. Yay! I voted for Wren, too. My favourite W name. It used to be Willow, but now I prefer Wren.
    Can’t wait for July!